Denver Designer Credits IMC Competition With Preparing Him For Profession
By Jillian Stenzel
Joey Vestal, a 2008 graduate of the Donald W. Reynolds School of Journalism, calls the Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) competition the best career-building experience of his college years.
Now a web and graphic designer at Anabliss Design and Brand Strategy in Denver, Vestal said, “It’s the experience of it - working hard and staying through spring break to watch the sunrise as you’re working on the book. It teaches you not to stop until it’s as good as it gets.”
Vestal said the high level of commitment required was one of the best elements of the competition. “You can get an internship at an agency, but it won’t be as thorough as anything like the IMC class. It’s fun - teaches you to have a thick skin and you get to work on a national client.”
Assistant Professor and IMC Advisor Bob Felten remembers the contributions Vestal made on a team that worked on a national campaign for AOL. “Joey was a vital part of the team that finished sixth in the National Student Advertising Competition of the American Advertising Federation that year. He is personable, committed and talented. His teammates loved working with him and knew they could depend on him.”
Vestal also credits to his creative classes at the Reynolds School, internship and freelance work after graduation as valuable learning experiences, but for him, the IMC competition was is the best way.
A great lesson from IMC, he said, is that even if you think you’re idea is great, it’s not up to you - it’s up to the client. “I learned that the more you can beat up your design before the client sees it, the better,” Vestal said, “It’s going to make it that much stronger- and that’s how it actually is in the professional world.”
After graduating as an advertising major and digital media minor, Vestal did his best to land a job in design or copywriting- whatever was available. “I ended up being pushed more into the design end, which is okay with me because I enjoy it. It helped having a well-rounded portfolio that showed everything I could do. If you’re just graduating and not absolutely positive that you’re copywriting portfolio is the best in the world, keep it broad.”
Vestal had an opportunity to develop a diverse array of creative skills for his portfolio in various Reynolds School classes. He said an employer may not need one skill, but if they see you have something else to bring to the table, it’s a way to get your foot in the door.
“At first I didn’t care about reporting or writing stories that we did in the initial journalism classes,” Vestal said, “But looking back, it helped me become a better writer. My knowledge of AP style has been surprisingly beneficial. I’m kind of the resident proof reader at work.”
Two years after getting his start in Reno, Vestal moved to Denver. “I wanted a bigger market, but not a huge city. I preferred the idea of being a small fish in a medium sized pond like Denver, rather than a big pond like San Francisco or Seattle.”
Vestal came to Denver with a three-month trial contract Anabliss Design and Brand Strategy and the company hired him after the trial. He now spends most of his time doing web design with some copywriting and graphic design thrown in.
Aside from taking the IMC class, Vestal recommends students work on developing their software skills. “Learn to program. That’s the best advice I can give. Learn the ins and outs of WordPress and ExpressionEngine.”
Vestal see website content management, mobile apps and social media a huge in the current market. “You just have to keep teaching yourself new things. That’s kind of what advertising is. It takes off of one media and goes to the next. If you can’t adapt to it, you’re going to be left in the dust.”